FCS 2019: Ivy League Preview

CRAIG HALEY (STATS FCS Senior Editor=)
The Associated Press

(STATS) - When you can list half of the Ivy League teams as title contenders and realize you forgot to include Harvard, it underscores the depth of quality teams this year.

Oh, the Crimson usually don't stray far from the title picture - they finished first or second in 14 of 15 seasons from 2001-15 - they've helped raise the bar for the rest of the league. Penn, Princeton, Dartmouth and this year's favorite Yale also have each won at least a share of the league title in the last four seasons.

The 2019 season is boosted by the league's special role in college football's 150th anniversary celebration. Many Ivy teams have storied histories and Princeton played Rutgers in the first game on Nov. 6, 1869.

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Following is a predicted order of finish and a team-by-team breakdown of the 2019 Ivy League race:

1. Yale

2. Dartmouth

3. Princeton

4. Harvard

5. Columbia

6. Penn

7. Cornell

8. Brown

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TEAM CAPSULES

1. YALE

LOCATION: New Haven, Connecticut

STADIUM: Yale Bowl

HEAD COACH: Tony Reno (38-32, seven seasons)

2018 RECORDS: 5-5 overall, 3-4 Ivy (Tie/4th)

PROJECTED RETURNING STARTERS: 21 (11 offense/10 defense)

KEY PLAYERS: Kurt Rawlings, QB, Sr.; Griffiin O'Connor, QB, So.; Zane Dudek, RB, Jr.; Alan Lamar, RB, Sr.; Reed Klubnik, WR, Sr.; J.P. Shohfi, WR, Sr.; J.J. Howland, TE, Jr.; Sterling Strother, OL, Sr.; Dieter Eiselen, OL, Sr.; Charles Callender, DL, Sr.; Spencer Matthaei, DL, Sr.; Ryan Burke, LB, Sr.; Noah Pope, LB, So.; Malcom Dixon, DB, Sr.

THREE KEY LOSSES: J. Hunter Roman, DE; Nicholas Crowle, DL; Alex Galland, PK/P

OUTLOOK: Injuries played a big reason in the 2017 Ivy champ's step backward last season, but the Bulldogs now have one of the more veteran lineups in the FCS, incredible depth created at QB (Rawlings backed by 2018 Ivy rookie of the year O'Connor) and RB (Dudek and Lamar, both All-Ivy first-teamers). They even have a dynamic WR duo in Klubnik and Shohfi (a combined 128 receptions for 1,979 yards and 15 TDs). The defense has to get physical again after opponents scored nearly 13 more points per game last season than they did a year earlier. The Bulldogs also seek to reverse a minus-11 turnover margin which was the worst in the league. Their games against Dartmouth and Princeton are on the road.

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2. DARTMOUTH

LOCATION: Hanover, New Hampshire

STADIUM: Memorial Field

HEAD COACH: Buddy Teevens (96-92-2, 19 seasons; 130-169-2 overall)

2018 RECORDS: 9-1 overall, 6-1 Ivy (2nd) - No. 18 in final STATS FCS Top 25

PROJECTED RETURNING STARTERS: 11 (5 offense/6 defense)

KEY PLAYERS: Jared Gerbino, QB, Sr.; Derek Kyler, QB, Jr.; Zack Bair, RB, So.; Caylin Parker, RB, Sr.; Hunter Hagdorn, WR, Sr.; Drew Estrada, WR, Sr.; Connor Rempel, TE, Sr.; Zach Sammartino, OL, Sr.; Jackson Perry, DL, R-Sr.; Niko Lalos, DL, Sr.; David Chalmers, DL, R-Sr.; Jack Traynor, LB, R-Sr.; Nigel Alexander, LB, Sr.; Isiah Swann, CB, Sr.; Ryan Roegge, FS, Sr.; Connor Davis, PK, So.

THREE KEY LOSSES: Matt Kaskey, OL; Rocco Di Leo, DE; Kyran McKinney-Crudden, NB

OUTLOOK: Dartmouth has gone 6-1 or 5-2 in league play in five of the last six seasons under Teevens, who is four wins shy of 100 with the Big Green. They dominated at both lines of scrimmage last year and have to fill graduation losses. The Big Green surrendered only 12 points per game, ranking second in the FCS to Patriot League champ Colgate (conveniently they meet on Sept. 28). The dominating defense will continue behind CB Swann, who collected an FCS-high nine interceptions and added nine breakups while winning Ivy defensive player of the year. The offense has two styles with wildcat QB Gerbino (team-high 700 rushing yards and eight TDs) and Kyler (155.5 passing efficiency, No. 7 in FCS).

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3. PRINCETON

LOCATION: Princeton, New Jersey

STADIUM: Princeton Stadium

HEAD COACH: Bob Surace (48-42, nine seasons; 66-45 overall)

2018 RECORDS: 10-0 overall, 7-0 Ivy (1st) - No. 10 in final STATS FCS Top 25

PROJECTED RETURNING STARTERS: 14 (6 offense/8 defense)

KEY PLAYERS: Kevin Davidson, QB, Sr.; Zachary Keller, QB, Sr.; Collin Eaddy, RB, Jr.; Tiger Bech, WR/RS, Sr.; Graham Adomitis, TE, Sr.; Alex Deters, C, Sr.; Jay Rolader, DE, Sr.; Joey DeMarco, DT, Sr.; Jeremiah Tyler, LB, Jr.; T.J. Floyd, FS, Sr.; Delan Stallworth, CB, Jr.; Nicolas Ramos, PK, Jr.

THREE KEY LOSSES: John Lovett, QB; Charlie Volker, RB; Jesper Horsted, WR

OUTLOOK: The defending Ivy champion Tigers are coming off their first unbeaten season since 1964, but they will be hard-pressed to replace QB Lovett, the league's two-time offensive player of the year, plus last year's top offensive weapons. In addition, All-Ivy OT Reily Radosevich suffered a season-ending injury this summer. Davidson, who started one game last season, seeks to take over for Lovett, but Surace could work in some other young QBs as well. RB Eaddy rushed for 663 yards on 7.1 yards a pop. The defense lost its leading tacklers, LBs Tom Johnson and Mark Fossati. In a league with top defensive backs, Princeton has a pair with FS Floyd and CB Stallworth. Columbia is the only dangerous opponent in the first half of the season (the other four opponents went a combined 9-34 last year).

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4. HARVARD

LOCATION: Cambridge, Massachusetts

STADIUM: Harvard Stadium

HEAD COACH: Tim Murphy (174-75, 25 seasons; 206-120-1 overall)

2018 RECORDS: 6-4 overall, 4-3 Ivy (3rd)

PROJECTED RETURNING STARTERS: 10 (4 offense/6 defense)

KEY PLAYERS: Jake Smith, QB, Jr.; Aaron Shampklin, RB, Jr.; Devin Darrington, RB, Jr.; Jack Cook, WR, Sr.; Liam Shanahan, OL, Sr.; Jackson Ward, OL, Sr.; Brogan McPartland, DL, Sr.; Joey Goodman, LB, Sr.; Jordan Hill, LB, Jr.; Max Jones, DB, Jr.; Wesley Ogsbury, DB, Sr.; Jake McIntyre, PK, Sr.; Jon Sot, P, So.

THREE KEY LOSSES: Tom Stewart, QB; Larry Allen, OL; Stone Hart, DT

OUTLOOK: Harvard ended last season with a three-game winning streak by an average of nearly 25 points and seeks to keep the momentum going into 2019. However, no team lost more starters than the Crimson. The junior class could fuel the team, including QB Smith, RB Shampkin (league-high 1,053 rushing yards plus 10 TDs) and LB Hill (team-high 70 tackles). Among returning seniors, Ogsbury picked off six passes last season and PK McIntyre is 30-for-36 on field goals in his career. Each of last year's four losses was by eight or fewer points, so the Crimson are sensing a return to prominence.

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5. COLUMBIA

LOCATION: New York

STADIUM: Wien Stadium

HEAD COACH: Al Bagnoli (19-21, four seasons; 253-120 overall)

2018 RECORDS: 6-4 overall, 3-4 Ivy (Tie/4th)

PROJECTED RETURNING STARTERS: 16 (7 offense/9 defense)

KEY PLAYERS: Josh Bean, QB, Jr.; Dante Miller, RB, So.; Ryan Young, RB, So.; Lynnard Rose, RB, Sr.; Josh Wainwright, WR, Sr.; Ronald Smith, WR, Sr.; Mike Roussos, WR/RS, So.; Parker Coogan, OL, Sr.; Daniel DeLorenzi, DL, Jr.; Arman Samouk, DL, Sr.; Michael Murphy, LB, Sr.; Benjamin McKeighan, DB, Sr.; Ben Mathiasmeier, DB, Jr.; Will Allen, DB, Jr.; Oren Milstein, PK, Sr.; Drew Schmid, P, Jr.

THREE KEY LOSSES: Sean White, LB; Ryan Gilbert, DB; Chris Alleyne, PK

OUTLOOK: Under Bagnoli (the NCAA's active coaching wins leader), the Lions are coming off back-to-back winning seasons for the first time since 1961 and '62. They could make it three straight seasons behind their veteran lineup, including key players such as WR Wainwright (124 career receptions) returning from injury. QB Bean started four games and RBs Young and Miller impressed as freshmen last season. DE DeLorenzi is coming off a program-record 9½ sacks and LB Murphy is a steady leader. The big question is, can the Lions handle an Ivy road schedule that includes Princeton, Dartmouth and Yale?

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6. PENN

LOCATION: Philadelphia

STADIUM: Franklin Field

HEAD COACH: Ray Priore (26-14, four seasons)

2018 RECORDS: 6-4 overall, 3-4 Ivy (Tie/4th)

PROJECTED RETURNING STARTERS: 15 (7 offense/8 defense)

KEY PLAYERS: Ryan Glover, QB, Jr.; Karekin Brooks, RB, Sr.; Abe Willows, RB, Sr.; Greg Begnoche, OL, Sr.; Jeff Gibbs, OL, Sr.; Travis Spreen, OL, So.; Ace Escobedo, OL, Sr.; Taheeb Sonekan, DL, Sr.; Brian O'Neill, LB, Jr.; Sam Philippi, S, Sr.; Jacob Martin, S, Sr.; Mohammed Diakite, CB, So.; Conor O'Brien, CB, Sr.; Tayte Doddy, DB, Sr.

THREE KEY LOSSES: Tommy Dennis, LT; Nick Miller, LB; Jack Soslow, PK

OUTLOOK: The Quakers spread out spring practice because of a cultural and good will trip to China. This season, they're celebrating the 125th season of football at storied Franklin Field. The key returnees include two-time All-Ivy second-team S Philippi, who gained a fifth season after being lost in the first game a year ago. He's part of a deep secondary that headlines the defense. New offensive coordinator Kevin Morris changed an attack that is led by QB Glover and RB Brooks, who made the All-Ivy second team after rushing for 898 yards and eight touchdowns. If they are in title contention in November, the Quakers play three of their final league games at home.

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7. CORNELL

LOCATION: Ithaca, New York

STADIUM: Schoellkopf Field

HEAD COACH: David Archer (15-45, six seasons)

2018 RECORDS: 3-7 overall, 2-5 Ivy (7th)

PROJECTED RETURNING STARTERS: 14 (6 offense/8 defense)

KEY PLAYERS: Mike Catanese, QB, Jr.; Harold Coles, RB, Sr.; Eric Gallman, WR, Jr.; Lars Pedersen, WR, Sr.; Owen Peters, WR, Sr.; John Fitzgerald, TE, Sr.; George Holmes III, OL, Sr.; Nick Busher, OL, Jr.; Jordan Landsman, DL, Sr.; Cyrus Nolan, DL, Sr.; Lance Blass, LB, Jr.; David Jones, CB/RS, Sr.; Jelani Taylor, S, Sr.; Nickolas Null, PK/P, Sr.

THREE KEY LOSSES: Dalton Banks, QB; J. Edward Keating, OL; Reis Seggebruch, LB

OUTLOOK: Cornell has not had a winning season - overall or in the league - during Archer's tenure. A difficult schedule suggests a similar season again. The offense will revolve around RB Coles (710 rushing yards, seven touchdowns) because it is replacing three-year QB Banks and four starters on the offensive line. The defense is more experienced, led in the secondary by CB Jones and S Taylor (team-high 72 tackles). The defense forced only nine turnovers last year while having a negative turnover margin for the third straight season.

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8. BROWN

LOCATION: Providence, Rhode Island

STADIUM: Brown Stadium

HEAD COACH: James Perry (first season; 12-10 overall)

2018 RECORDS: 1-9 overall, 0-7 Ivy (8th)

PROJECTED RETURNING STARTERS: 15 (8 offense/7 defense)

KEY PLAYERS: Michael McGovern, QB, Jr.; Allen Smith, RB, So.; Scott Boylan, WR, Jr.; Jakob Prall, WR, Sr.; L.J. Harriott, WR, Sr.; Nicholas Allsop, OL, Sr.; Phil Lynch, OL, Sr.; Toby Okwara, OL, Sr.; Michael Hoecht, DT, Sr.; Brendan Pyne, OLB, Sr.; Kingslet Ejiogu-Dike, LB, Jr.; Izayah Powell, SS, Jr.; Charile Dallape, CB, So.

THREE KEY LOSSES: Christian Montano, OL; Daryle Banfield, DL; Daniel Aidman, LB

OUTLOOK: Winless in Ivy games the last two seasons, Brown seeks a turnaround under Perry, its former star quarterback who was Bryant's coach the last two years. He previously coached in the Ivy League as Princeton's offensive coordinator. The Bears managed only 14.3 points and 65.1 rushing yards per game last year, but the offensive pace will increase this season. Four starters return to the offensive line to try to better protect QB McGovern (league-high 220.2 passing yards per game), who was under fire while the offense allowed 46 sacks in only 10 games. The defense also ranked last in the league, but it returns a playmaker up front in DT Hoecht (69 tackles, 3½ sacks). Ironically, the Perry era will open with a visit to Bryant.

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